About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Guest Post – Cynthia Owens

Back to School
By Cynthia Owens

Whenever I think of “Back to School,” so many images come to mind. Walks to school through crisply crunching autumn leaves. New teachers, classmates. New books in the school library. Pencils, pens and notebooks. New challenges.

This year, back-to-school will be a little bit different. This year my beautiful daughter will take the first step into adulthood when she starts college on August 21.

So many firsts, and all of them heart-wrenching. On her first day of pre-school, I’m not sure who shed more tears, me or her! When she started kindergarten, I was a little bit more prepared…though not much. By the time she got to high school, she and I were both looking forward to it…okay, well, she more than I, but I think we were both ready for the new adventure.

And now she’s a lovely young woman embarking on a new phase in her life. I’m grateful she’s going to be commuting every day…I’m definitely not ready for her to move out on her own, though I know that day will eventually come, and sooner than I’m prepared for it.

Many people think of autumn and the back-to-school season as the end of things. The dying of the year, the end of the summer. But I’ve always thought of it as an exciting time, and yes, even a romantic time. Cooler air is just made for cuddling by a sweet-smelling fire, and I love the smell and the sound of fallen leaves, especially at night, when the moon is a glorious golden orb hanging low in the sky.

Lydia Daniels and Shane MacDermott think autumn is a pretty romantic time, too. In fact, they had their very first kiss on a bright autumn day under a canopy of watermelon-red, lemon-yellow and pumpkin orange leaves.

*~*~*

Deceptive HeartsHer breath caught in her throat, making her feel dizzy and faint. The blazing canopy of leaves above her whirled crazily. “Please,” she whispered, wondering what she begged for. “Oh, don’t…”

In an instant he was beside her, his arm sliding around her shoulders. The heat of his body seared her to her very soul as she sank into the depths of his obsidian eyes. She felt the strength in his arm, in his hand. But he wasn’t threatening or intimidating. Instead he emanated a quiet, gentle, strength, almost caring, almost…tender.

“Are you all right, lass?”

His voice! Slightly gravelly, mellow, filled with concern. She stared up at him, and felt as if she were falling. Falling from some incredible height, knowing he’d be there to catch her. Falling into a soft web of gentleness, of caring, that she’d never known before.

“I-I am so sorry.”

“Ah, you needn’t be.” Humor laced his tone, and suddenly he smiled again, an endearing glint of mischief dancing in his eyes. “What man doesn’t want to play the hero to such a lovely lass as yourself?”

He thought her lovely! She despised herself for the little thrill that trembled in her heart, but she couldn’t help it. He was so compelling, so warm, so utterly masculine. He was gentle. She knew better than to trust such a man, she knew she did.

And yet…

“And what man doesn’t want to hold a beautiful woman in his arms?” His voice roughened, one hand reaching out to touch her cheek.

Despite herself, she flinched.

His hand paused in mid-air. “Don’t be afraid.” His voice flowed over and around her, making the sun filtering through the leaves of the trees seem brighter, the blue October sky seem bluer, the crisp, smoky air sweeter. “I mean you no harm, Lydia, I swear I don’t.”

He’d caught her up in his spell. “Then what do you mean, Shane MacDermott?”

He moved closer, closer, until she could feel the warm, moist whisper of his breath on her cheek. “This.”

He lowered his mouth to hers, capturing her lips in a kiss so sweet and so gentle that it stole her breath, filled her with warmth, and chased away her fears. His hand came up to stroke her cheek, his touch feather-light against her skin. His callused fingers scraped her flesh, thrillingly abrasive. Her heart pounded against her chest.

And she felt no fear at all. There was no harshness in Shane’s touch, no brutal invasion of her mouth, her body, her very soul. This…why this was comfort. This was warmth and tenderness and caring.

He raised his mouth. “Lydia,” he muttered, his breathing unsteady. “You’re so sweet. Sweeter than ripe strawberries. Sweeter than honey. Your hair…” He ran his fingers through the locks she’d allowed to escape, making her wish she’d loosed it all. “’Tis like the finest silk. Your skin…” He stroked her cheek, and she shuddered with pleasure. “’Tis the softest velvet. Your taste…” His tongue licked over her skin, sending lightning bolts of heat dancing through her. “I want to devour you.” His lips moved to caress her cheek, nuzzle her hair, skate over her collarbone, sending shivers of delight through her entire being.

This was insane. It was folly to allow her hands to slide up the strong, corded muscles of his arms. It was absolute madness to sink her fingers into the rough, dark curls at his nape, to press closer to him, absorb the warmth of his body with her own.

But she did. She breathed in his spicy scent, lost herself in his strength. She stroked the back of his neck and gloried in the harsh groan that rumbled through him. His hands slid around her waist, bunching in the fabric of her gown, pulling her closer, and closer still.

“Shane…” Her body trembled with desire, her entire being in thrall to his magic. “Shane…”

As if the sound of her voice had poured a bucket of cold water over him, Shane jerked away from her, his face accusing. Jumping up from the bench, he stalked a few paces away, his breathing harsh. “It seems you’ve a way of turnin’ a man’s thoughts from his purpose, so you have.”

*~*~*

DSCN1026I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17thCentury “King’s Girl,” one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of  Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there. My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and I tried penning sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female version of Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a musical set in Paris during WWII. A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three. I’m the author of The Claddagh Series, historical romances set in Ireland and beyond. The first three books in The Claddagh Series, In Sunshine or in Shadow, Coming Home, and Playing For Keeps, are all available from Highland Press. Deceptive Hearts, the first book in The Wild Geese Series, has just been released, and Book II, Keeper of the Light,will soon be published by Highland Press. I am a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero and our two teenaged children.

You can find Cynthia and her books on her webpage, and most online book retailers:

Website
Facebook
Twitter

**Thank you so much to Cynthia for sharing her life with us. Please take the time to leave a comment for her. All comments will be entered to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card! Happy September!!**

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Guest Post — Robin Bielman

Hi everyone! I’m so happy to be back on Heart Shaped Glasses! I love this month’s theme! Huge thanks to all the gals and especially to Bethanne for inviting me here today.

~*~ Treasured Places ~*~

I love to travel. Actually, I take that back. I love being in new and/or favorite places. The getting there is often hard for this motion sickness afflicted girl. Not that I’m going to let that stop me! I have plans. Big plans. Plans that involve a tower in Paris and a coast in Amalfi and a few places in between.

Until then (cross your fingers everyone!), I do have a few favorite places here in the states. Places my family and I have traveled to that have been the perfect setting for fun, adventure, and lasting memories.

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The first time I saw the Grand Canyon, my breath literally caught. I was in total awe. Pictures just don’t do its grandness justice. While there, we got to experience beautiful blue sky and snow. It was magical both ways and the only time I wished I could blink and be back in our cabin was when my then eleven-year-old thought it would be funny to get waaay too close to the edge of the trail we were hiking on. Talk about my heart dropping to my feet. In my newest release, Risky Surrender, the setting is Arizona and there’s a scene at the canyon’s El Tovar Hotel Dining Room. We had dinner there one night and the view of the rim was amazing.
DSCN0254Besides Europe, my travel bucket list includes as many national parks as I can get to. We’re fortunate to live within a half-day’s drive to Yosemite and once again, we were in awe of the natural beauty surrounding us. We hiked and went river rafting. Laughed and wondered how we’d react if we saw a bear. (We didn’t.)

Our most favorite spot so far, though, is Hawaii. We love Maui and Kauai and have been fortunate to visit a few times. We love going on adventures in between lying out by the pool and spending time at the beach, and these pictures are from our last trip to Kauai. We took a hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls along the Na Pali Coast. That first picture is the easy part of our trail. As we got closer to the falls, the terrain grew rugged and slippery and we pretty much had to follow a stream to the waterfall since there was no obvious path. The trail ends at the foot of the waterfall (picture #2) and it’s spectacular. We jumped in despite the water being freezing cold and then hiked our way back. The hike took most of the day and I’ll always remember it.

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(You guys! In the middle of writing this, I took a quick break to eat dinner. Chinese take-out. And guess what my fortune said? You will discover an unexpected treasure. I thought that tied in nicely with my title of this post and had to share. J)

Okay, so lastly we recently decided to play tourist in our own backyard and hike to the Hollywood sign. We brought our dog, Harry, and we trekked up the wide-open trail. A far cry from Hanakapi’ai. And I loved this little sign! Especially because really, anyone could get to that point.  Our little Harry (he’s a mini labradoodle) was barely out of breath.

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So tell me, where’s the one place you’ve visited that you’ll treasure forever? Leave me a comment and you’ll be entered to win a digital copy of the first book in my Risk It series, Worth the Risk.

About Risky Surrender

Risky Surrender- 1600She was in search of an ancient treasure…and stole his heart instead.

Archeologist Lucy Davenport made a promise to retrieve an elusive piece of history buried in the walls of an iconic Indian village. But when she draws unwanted attention that interferes with her secret plans, she’s forced to risk it all with a man who threatens not only her goal, but the walls she’s carefully constructed around her heart. 

Keats McCall is an environmental preservationist navigating the globe on behalf of heritage protection. When he catches Lucy at his latest project, he suspects she’s up to something. She’s secretive, sexy as hell—and has trouble written all over her. He devises a plan to keep her close so he can keep an eye on her. But what he isn’t prepared for is just how close he wants to get.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Risky-Surrender-Entangled-After-ebook/dp/B00EGJE3MC/ref=pd_sim_sbs_kstore_1

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/risky-surrender-robin-bielman/1116394349?ean=9781622662395

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/risky-surrender/id687063778?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/risky-surrender

Robin in velvet pastel haze 620About Robin Bielman…

Robin Bielman lives in Southern California with her high school sweetheart husband, two sons, and crazy-cute mini labradoodle, Harry. When not attached to her laptop, she can almost always be found with her nose in a book. She also loves to run, hike, and dip her toes in the ocean. Writing is a dream come true, and she still pinches herself to be sure it’s real.

She is also the author of Kissing the Maid of Honor and Worth the Risk and Yours At Midnight from Entangled’s Ever After line. She loves to connect with readers. Visit her online:

 

http://robinbielman.com

Twitter @RobinBielman

http://facebook.com/RobinBielmanWriter

http://goodreads.com/robinbielman

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Guest Blogger — Shelley Munro

Earthquakes, Art Deco Napier and New Zealand

Earthquakes have been in the news recently in my home country of New Zealand, since another large one struck Seddon in the South Island yesterday. Aftershocks rippled through the region and into the Wellington area of the North Island. Luckily for me, I live in Auckland and have yet to experience the earth moving in this manner. We have fields of volcanoes in my city, but that’s another blog post!

Napier-Masonic Hotel exteriorBack in 1931 at 10:47am an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck the seaside town of Napier in the North Island of New Zealand. Fires broke out and soon destroyed the buildings that had survived the earthquake. 157 people died in Napier due to the earthquake and the resulting fires.

Instead of rebuilding the Victorian-style town immediately, the locals formed a planning committee and made a careful plan for their new town. After much research, they decided to build in the new Art Deco style. This was a practical decision because the buildings were square in shape and robust. Most desirable should there be another earthquake! The Art Deco style was also cheap to build, which was a must in the current economical climate of the depression. The third reason for choosing Art Deco was that it was very fashionable.

Napier-Colenso BuildingThe Market Reserve building was the first of the new Art Deco style structures to be constructed after the quake. The builders were instructed to use rivets on the steel frame instead of welding in the normal method. The planning committee wanted as much noise as possible to send a message of hope to the residents. Rebuilding had commenced!

These days Napier is a modern town, but the Art Deco buildings remain as a feature and bring lots of tourists to the area. My hero and heroine in my contemporary romance, One Night of Misbehavior visited the Napier area for a weekend, and like me, the heroine rather liked the plain, blocky style of the buildings and the decoration that comes from intricate zigzags, starbursts and Egyptian and Mayan designs on the facades.

Napier-MusiciansMy hero and heroine visit the Art Deco store to purchase clothes to wear to a 1920s costume party. The Art Deco flavor of Napier is enhanced with music, souvenirs, cars and costumes. Even the fountain is an Art Deco design to blend with the town buildings. Visitors can take a walking tour around the different buildings or do a self-guided tour. It’s a pleasant walk with lots of cafes and pubs along the way when you require a break. There’s also a long stretch of beach to amble along, and if you’re a fan of wine, the local wine-growing region shouldn’t be missed.Napier-vintage car

If you’re ever down this end of the world, I highly recommend a visit to Napier, or if a trip to New Zealand isn’t on the cards, grab one of my New Zealand set books and do some armchair traveling instead. J

New Zealand is a beautiful country. If you were to visit New Zealand what part would you visit first? What would you like to do first?

~*~*~

Shelley Munro is tall and curvaceous with blue eyes and a smile that turns masculine heads everywhere she goes. She’s a university tutor and an explorer/treasure hunter during her vacations. Skilled with weapons and combat, she is currently in talks with a producer about a television series based on her world adventures.

Shelley is also a writer blessed with a VERY vivid imagination and lives with her own hero in New Zealand. She writes mainly erotic romance in the contemporary, paranormal and historical genres for publishers Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing. You can learn more about Shelley and her books at the following links:

WEBSITE: http://www.shelleymunro.com

BLOG: http://www.shelleymunro.com/blog

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/ShelleyMunroAuthor

GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/ShelleyMunro

PINTEREST: http://www.pinterest.com/ShelleyMunro

TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/ShelleyMunro

NEW ZEALAND SET BOOKS: http://www.shelleymunro.com/books-by-theme/#newzealandsetting

 

One Night, FINAL200x300Shelley’s Latest book: One Night of Misbehavior

He wears his scars on the outside. She keeps hers safe inside.

Charlotte Dixon ignores her stepmother’s edict and, in an act of disobedience, attends one of the social events of the year—a masquerade costume ball. Charlotte’s naughtiness escalates when she dances and smooches with a sexy mystery man. The night of anonymous passion that follows makes her yearn for a different life, but the next day she’s back to her dull routine of household management.

Advertising tycoon, Ash Marlborough is about to set a private investigator on the trail of his nameless princess when she waltzes right into his place of work. Charlotte is shocked to meet her masked man in the flesh, and even more perturbed when he asks her out on a date. Despite craving another night of sexy loving, she doesn’t have time for a man, not when she wants to reinvent herself and grasp a new, improved life with both hands. But Ash knows what he wants, and he’s determined to win the heart of his princess. Let the dance of seduction commence.

Warning: Contains a conniving stepmother, selfish stepsisters, a grandmother with fairy godmother tendencies and a sexy masked man who is willing to face them all for the love of a good woman.

Purchase link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CB8801A

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Travel vs. Moving

I love to travel, which is probably a good thing, because I’ve spent all my life moving, from one place to another. I’m going to give the short blog, list version of my travels….

Long Island to Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fort Lauderdale to Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids to Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh to Manila, Phillippines [a side trip to see the Pope and visit distant family there]–a once in a lifetime opportunity that I earned by writing an essay. Paid-for-trip by the Knights of Columbus… I always stick a dollar in their Tootsie Roll fundraising. 😀

In here, I travelled the country with a mission group, stopping in many states of the western side of the United States–MN, WI, KS, OK, TX, NM, CA, CO…

Pittsburgh to Fairfax, VA

Fairfax to Steubenville, OH [for college, where I got married]

Steubenville to Denver, CO [for husband’s post-grad]

Denver to Steubenville, OH [back to our old stomping ground to start off “real life”] ***also where I started writing!!

Steubenville to Fairfax, VA [where we lived with my parents and husband studied for the CPA exam]

Fairfax to Decatur, IL

….and then we joined the ARMY! haha.

Moving vs. Travelling

There are always two sides of the moving coin. The excitement of starting off new, of tweaking behavior, trying something different. And the sadness of leaving friends and family behind. I think what I love about moving around so much is the chance to grow more roots, make new friends. Find something different to make my life fuller. Maybe the truth is…I’m not much of a traveller at all. I like being home. Maybe that’s why I’m destined to move so much.

Now, if I could just get the Army to move us to Belize! or Ireland! or Spain–for a season! 😀 Have a great weekend, folks. Enjoy where you are.

And don’t forget to comment for a chance to win this month’s prize.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Guest Post — Gina Conkle

How Do You Feel About Adventures?

Years ago my oldest son asked that question while we ran errands.  He was near the end of kindergarten and summer stretched before us. But, his simple question started a family tradition that we all love — The Adventure List.

Every summer and Christmas break, our family makes a wish list of things we want to do on poster-sized paper.  Sometimes our quests are simple: see the latest superhero movie, day at the fair, or go-karts.

Once in a while, we get brave and go big.

Our latest plan?  Tallinn, Estonia for Christmas!

Maybe you’re scratching your head…Estonia-where?  Then you consult a map and see how close Estonia is to the Arctic-freakin’-Circle!

But here’s a few gems to consider:

iStock_000011311558Small-Tallinn Old Market Square decorated for Christmas*Tallinn, Estonia’s home to one of Europe’s best preserved medieval old towns.  Why not celebrate the holiday at the Christmas Market on Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square) decorated for the season in Middle Ages style?

Tallin_Tavern*Need to keep warm? Try Black Pepper Schnapps in one of Europe’s oldest still-in-business taverns.  That ceiling? It’s over 700 years old.

*Like variety? Explore a multi-cultural mix of architecture: German built castles, Russian Onion Dome churches, and Baroque Kadriog Palace (when Peter the Great ran Estonia) all in the same city.  But, if that’s not old enough for you…

Old town of Tallinn Estonia*Talinn’s Old Town is 62 square miles of antiquity ready to be explored.  A UNESCO site, the Old Town boasts archaic shops with people still living in medieval buildings.  And the pharmacy? Opened in 1422 and famed for everything from marzipan to “powdered unicorn horn” (for male potency)! Even Russian Tsars ordered medicine from that very shop.

iStock_000004151112Small-Pepper Pot turrets, Tallinn*Do you like wi-fi and a cappuccino with your history? Tallin’s counted among the top ten digital cities in the world. You can experience the past with present comforts. While sipping your hot beverage, meander past pepper pot turrets, architecture that was all the rage in castle building from the 13th century through the Renaissance.

 

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral*But if that’s not old enough for you, learn about war-like Oeselians (Estonian Vikings) whose relics are thankfully found only in museums.  Ptolemy wrote about them in Geography III (2nd century BC), and famed Viking skald Snorri Sturluson recorded their antics in Norse Sagas.

Now, we’re getting to time periods I love.

Archaeologists recently uncovered a rich Viking grave site (a two ship burial) on the Estonian island of Saaremaa, and I plan to visit those Norse artifacts in toasty, warm Tallinn museums.

Not a bad list of offerings for a place once described by a Muslim cartographer as “a small town.”

Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes, but sometimes going off the beaten path yields the best treasures.

What’s on your Adventure List?

~*~*~*~

19129_255294294601511_2017641803_n_(397x349)Gina’s a lover of history, books and romance, which makes the perfect recipe for historical romance writer.  Her passion for castles and old places (the older and moldier the better!) means interesting family vacations.  Good thing her husband and two sons share similar passions, except for romance…that’s where she gets the eye roll.  When not visiting fascinating places, she can be found in southern California delving into the latest adventures of organic gardening and serving as chief taxi driver.

On my website: http://ginaconkle.com/

On twitter: https://twitter.com/ginaconkle

On Facebook: http://on.fb.me/180kL1y

On Pinterest: http://bit.ly/180l9gu

~*~*~*~

Norse_Jewel-800pxDon’t miss Gina’s Latest release, Norse Jewel

A stolen woman of rare qualities…
Helena, a captive woman, wants her freedom. The Frankish maid wasn’t born a slave but marauding Danes have taken her and she’s desperate to escape their camp.  Her savior comes as a fierce Norse chieftain, Hakan, who takes her far north.

A hard Norseman who’s lived by the sword…
Hakan wants to lay down his sword and live a peaceful farmer’s life. Betrayal left him cold to other women, yet his heart thaws to clever Helena. She lures him with kindness, weaving happiness that’s short lived. Deceit and old loyalties vex the warrior, calling upon his sword arm.

A clash of cultures amidst a kingdom in transition…
War erupts…a kingdom’s in the balance. Can Hakan defend his homeland and save the woman he loves?

 

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Like Oil and Water

palms-on-the-beach-wallpaper

It NEVER looks so peaceful!!

Let’s face it…

After starting this blog entry three different times, I have to to admit, I’m not a summer person. I don’t like the heat. I’m not a fan of humidity.

My stories don’t often include The Beach…or boats, towels, pails, or pina coladas.

Once in a great while. That’s it for me. Like my story, Dark Summer, which takes place in Belize, during the late summer months. And also, Flashback, which is an early summer story set on the banks of North Carolina.

Give me a cozy cabin story, anyday. A hike through high altitudes when the rest of the country is sweltering, but I am enjoying wonderful 70 degree air. That’s me….

I remember being a kid and visiting Lake Michigan, during the winter months. Snow banks, ice, and COLD wind, blowing off the water.

Sybils_Cabin_Winter_Rear_2There are many things to like about summer, and I can enjoy a summer day just as much if not more than a winter day [when my husband’s with me], but over all, I’m a fall/winter kind-of-gal.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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